USD/JPY edging higher

The release of a much weaker than expected print for Japan’s Q4 GDP placed today’s BoJ meeting in a different light. While there was very little expectation of any policy action by the BoJ today the Bank surprised by increasing its lending program.

While asset purchases were not increased it is unlikely to be long before the BoJ embarks further along this path too. Clearly as the GDP data shows the task to boost growth / end deflation is going to be tough especially given the upcoming consumption tax hike. In other words the potential for future action remains significant.

USD/JPY fell initially on the BoJ outcome but pushed higher after an initial disappointment. The recent widening in the US / Japan yield differential (10 year differential at 224 basis points) indicates that USD/JPY will be supported on the upside, with support around 101.38.

Remaining constructive on AUD

In contrast to the consensus view I remain rather constructive on the AUD. As reflected in the RBA minutes today the central bank has shifted its stance somewhat, effectively closing the door on further policy easing while finding it difficult to talk the currency lower as inflation pushes higher.

Separately although Chinese growing is slowing this year assuming that growth does not fall too far and too quickly the AUD is unlikely to suffer much from this source.

A lot bad news for AUD has been largely priced in. Firstly, the drop in AUD/USD has been consistent with the deterioration in terms of trade.

Secondly Australia’s broad basic balance position is quite healthy as strong direct investment and portfolio inflows counter a current account deficit.

Thirdly, even when looking at China’s growth trajectory the AUD is at a level which discounts this. Near term resistance for AUD/USD is seen around 0.9087.

AUDTOT

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Positive tone to be sustained

A quiet start to the week following the President’s Day holiday in the US saw mixed performances among European equity markets overnight. There was however, a continued improvement in risk appetite as indicated by a further decline in the VIX “fear gauge”.

The impulse provided for today’s sessions is limited although markets are likely to get off to a positive start. The USD managed to show some stability following recent pressures, albeit at a low level, while gold prices remained supported above the key 200 day moving average level.

The main event today is the Bank of Japan policy decision which will be watched closely following yesterday’s release of disappointing Q4 GDP data.

The German February ZEW survey is also on tap, with a relatively stable reading likely to be registered although attention appears to be more on the new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzie rather than on economic data.

Additionally UK inflation data for January is set to reveal that inflation has dropped below target highlighting that the BoE is going to be in no rush to hike policy rates over coming months

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